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Assessing the Impact of United States mass media on Croatian cultural identities

Author: 
Imre, Iveta
Committee Members: 
Dr. Norman R. Swan, Jr.
Date: 
May 2014

Abstract: 

Researchers throughout the decades have been interested in understanding how global communications coming from the West affect different cultures around the world. Many have raised concerns about the impact of American media on unique national cultures. The main purpose of this study was to understand how exposure to American television influences cultural identities and values of young people in Croatia, one of the new democracies of post-Communist Eastern Europe. This was accomplished in two parts. First part of this study sought to test the relationship between watching American television and adopting American values following a cognitive functional theory of television's socialization effects developed by Tan, Nelson, Dong, and Tan (1997). Survey was distributed to a sample of 487 undergraduate and graduate students from the University of Zagreb in Croatia. The second part of the study aimed to further understand the meaning of Croatian youth’s experiences when they come in contact with foreign media and how they view their cultural identities. A total of 26 undergraduate and graduate students from the University of Zagreb participated in 5 focus groups. Results indicate that American television programs do not influence Croatian values as much as Croatian culture. While the survey participants accepted only five American values out of 16 measured, the focus group participants, on the other hand, described how American influences could be seen in everyday life in Croatia. However, as the results of this study show, exposing foreign cultures to American television programs hardly leads to cultural homogenization based on Western values. Instead, these cultural encounters lead to cultural hybridity, an emergence of a new form of culture comprised, on one hand, of old, well established Croatian cultural elements, and on the other hand newer, accepted or assimilated Western cultural elements.